What is Biophilic Design?

Published: Feb 20, 2024
A cozy, plant-filled room with a person in a hat tending to potted plants on a shelf by the window.
Image credit: Unsplash

Even a brief brush with the outdoors can sharpen your senses and refresh your mind. As hybrid life grows more hectic and we spend more hours at work, stepping outside for a few moments can spur productivity and lift your spirits. Yet, how often do we touch base with nature in the rush of the day?

This week, we will spend a few minutes understanding what biophilic means. If you haven’t heard this word before, don’t worry. When I began my search for workspaces with a garden, I got caught up by the results. And here I am, sharing them with you.

This term can be explained more simply.

The good news is that we can explain this as “workspaces with a garden”.

See, the term "Biophilic Workspaces" (pronounced biofilik) refers to environments that are designed to incorporate natural elements as part of their interior and architectural design, with the goal to connect the occupants more closely with nature.

The concept of biophilia, meaning "love of life" or "love of living systems," was popularised by Edward O. Wilson in the 1980s, suggesting that humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other life forms.

Simply put, it's not just about the interior; it's also about our health. We're exploring how bringing the outside in goes beyond being trendy—it's a rewarding move for improving our health and ramping up productivity.

Let’s break it down and see how adding a splash of greenery and natural light can transform our workday and how it can manifest in various ways. You can start by looking into these 6 points.

1. Use sunlight through windows, skylights, and well-placed workspaces to better mood and work, cutting back on artificial light. Have you considered how much real light hits you each day?

2. Adding plants, living walls, indoor gardens, or outdoor green spaces cleans the air, reduces stress, and improves your space.

3. This matters. Using wood, stone, and other natural materials brings warmth and a connection to the natural world.

4. Make sure workspaces look out on the outside world—landscapes, water, or city greenery.

5. Design spaces and choose furniture that echoes natural shapes, like geometric design, for a more organic and comfortable setting.

6. Add water features like fountains or aquariums for calm sounds and sights, making the atmosphere peaceful.

Various potted plants arranged on a sideboard with framed pictures and a lamp.
Image credit: Pexels

The Art of Blending: Making Nature and Design Work Together

Building a biophilic workspace is more than scattering plants around. It's about weaving nature into the fabric of the space without losing function. Achieve this with elements placed just right.

The big plan hinges on three things.

First, put shared spaces by windows.

Second, bring natural materials into the furniture.

Third, choose earthy colours.

This deliberate mix of nature and design lifts the look of the office. It makes the place more balanced and peaceful.

Two smiling people holding plants standing amidst lush greenery in a greenhouse.
Image credit: Pexel

A Full View: For Mind, Body, and Soul

If Biophilic design goes beyond looks, does that mean we can ignore our spaces' aesthetics and interior design? Well, not really.

It's about crafting places that reflect its culture and personalities. Quiet spots and rest areas with plants promote both physical activity and mental rest.

Considering we spend much of our lives at work, overall well-being matters. Biophilic design meets this need, offering areas that bolster physical health, clear thinking, and emotional steadiness. This approach builds a more content and engaged team.

Ultimately, bringing elements of nature into the workplace is more than decor—it's a smart move for employee health and output. The benefits for mental well-being, creativity, and job happiness are clear. As we tackle today's work challenges, let's lean on biophilic design to shape spaces that support our careers and enrich our lives.

Thinking of turning your workspace into a sanctuary of well-being?

For personal spaces, I recommend starting with simple improvements, such as buying long-lasting plants to surround yourself with, because it's straightforward and doesn’t require sophisticated design work.

Once you decide which option you can change in your environment, look up forums or Facebook groups to help you maximise your space.

Science tells us that being around plants, basking in natural light, and touching real textures can boost mood, creativity, and brain power.

Try biophilic design and see the difference it makes in your professional and personal life.

Sara Tavasolian
VP of Product